From left to right : Professor Raquel BARRAS ; Professor María Isabel NIETO ; Professor Mercedes GUINEA ; Professor Antonio MARQUINA.

 

Peace and Cooperation participated on 28th and 30th September 2022 in a series of lectures organised by the Angel Herrera Oria Cultural Foundation, the CEU San Pablo University of Madrid and UNISCI on “The transformation of NATO: Europe, Mediterranean and Indo-Pacific, implications for the Spanish Armed Forces”.

The lectures were held at the CEU San Pablo University. Several academics and key figures from the security and defence fields attended to these lectures as speakers : Carmen ROMERO, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Diplomacy ; Professor María Isabel NIETO (UNISCI – UCM) ; Professor Mercedes GUINEA (UNISCI – UCM) ; Professor Antonio ALONSO (UNISCI – CEU San Pablo University) ; Professor Antonio MARQUINA (UNISCI – Nebrija University) ; Professor Gracia ABAD (UNISCI – Nebrija University) ; Colonel Enrique FOJON of the Navy Infantry Corps ; General Federico YANIZ of the Air and Space Force ; General Jesús ARGUMOSA of the Army ; Vice-Admiral Enrique PEREZ RAMIREZ of the Navy.

First, Carmen ROMERO provided a very comprehensive overview of NATO in the current context. Last June, NATO reviewed its strategic concept. This document is intended to guide NATO’s strategic adaptation and political and military direction for the next ten years. It is therefore directly linked to geopolitical developments. The new NATO’s strategic concept reaffirms that the purpose of the Atlantic Alliance is the collective defence of its member states and that the three fundamental tasks of the organisation are deterrence and defence, crisis prevention and management and cooperative security. The current context of war in Ukraine shows that Europe is not at peace. Russia threatens the stability of this area and thus constitutes the most significant and direct threat to the security of the Allies. Part of NATO’s new strategic concept has been determined by the need to tackle this new threat. Member states face other threats including terrorism, cyber-attacks and disinformation. NATO also deals with global challenges, all linked to each other, such as climate change, new technologies, disarmament and non-proliferation. Furthermore, NATO wishes to maintain the dialogue with China because the said State displays ambitions and conducts policies contrary to the values defended by the Atlantic Alliance.

In order to complete this presentation, Professors Mercedes GUINEA and María Isabel NIETO jointly intervened on the question of the strategic autonomy of the European Union (EU) which, at first sight, seems to contradict the essence of NATO. As Mercedes Guinea clearly explained, NATO plays a key and essential role in the security of EU member states, but these states are in a situation of inferiority to the United States. It is necessary for the EU to rebalance in the face of United States power and the strategic autonomy of the EU is the key to this rebalancing, according to the academic. Common foreign policies on security and defence will allow the EU to no longer only depend on the United States for its own security. Thus NATO and the strategic autonomy of the EU are compatible. The EU is moving in that direction. Indeed, as María Isabel NIETO said, in March 2021 the EU created an extra budgetary fund to improve its capacity to prevent conflict, strengthen peace and international security: the European Peace Facility. However, foreign policy is not an EU’s field of competence. As María Isabel NIETO emphasised, each member state determines its own foreign policy, which makes it more difficult to establish a common foreign policy for the 27.

Then, several academics exposed the presence and interests of NATO in different regions of the world: Mediterranean and Middle East/Sahel region (Raquel BARRAS and Antonio MARQUINA), Central Asia region (Antonio ALONSO) and Indo-Pacific region (Gracia ABAD and Antonio MARQUINA). NATO has an interest in maintaining links in these regions of the world because instability and conflicts in these areas can indirectly be a source of instability for its member states. As has been highlighted, NATO only intervenes militarily when one of its member states has been the object of an armed attack. For example, NATO is not to intervene in a potential armed conflict between China and Taiwan because neither state is a member of the Atlantic Alliance.

The second day began with a lecture, led by Colonel Enrique FOJON, on the place of the West, and especially Spain, in the new geopolitical era. Then, General Federico YANIZ, General Jesús ARGUMOSA and Vice-Admiral Enrique PEREZ RAMIREZ analysed the adaptations of the Spanish Armed Forces in the face of geopolitical developments and the implications they generate.

A debate closed this series of lectures, allowing participants to present their thoughts and questions.

Thus, the current context of war in Ukraine has reminded European states that armed conflict and instability persist and that they are not immune. This conflict is one of the current concerns of NATO, an organisation that has aimed to guarantee the collective security of its member states since its creation in 1949.

Cléo Martel, Political Science student, Sciences Po Rennes University.

Peace and Cooperation